Ollee Owens – Cannot Be Unheard
This 9-cut CD is by Calgary-based Ollee Owens a vocalist who possesses a refined, cool bluesy voice with soulful textures & surprisingly this is her debut album. She sounds like someone who should already have a backlog of wonderful albums. But, better late than never. Ollee explores more than one genre of music in this collection & she lays it all down with expertise. Old style rhythm & blues, Gospel & juke-joint blues & she doesn’t perform this music with such relish & polish that she dilutes the music’s forte. She applies some real-life experiences to her music which always makes an artist’s repertoire even more compelling.
Produced by drummer Bobby Blazier Cannot Be Unheard (Drops Sept 16–Independent) songs have momentum with degrees of distorted guitar, some smoldering slide guitar, accentuated horns & minor-key blues,
“Through the Darkness,” features a Janis Joplin-Etta James-Sarah Vaughn hybrid of vocalizing that brings all these tones together as if each had singing lessons. Pure, but not so much that it deters from the individuality & dominating notes. Powerhouse with no residual smoke.
Olle is sumptuous, sexy & to a degree injects just enough sadness, sorrow & pathos into the performance. She is genuine to a fault. A great Bonnie Raitt/Bonnie Bramlett soulful phrasing reliance with energy in each line. I find this delightful listening. Concluding with soaring vocal notes (ala Karen Lawrence of 1994 “Once Again,” “Bring It Home” & the band Blue By Nature) with the added value of a galvanic lead guitar. Great recipe for excitement.
A heady atmosphere is added with “Raging Fire,” as Olle uses her best bluesy narrative voice to haunt with delicious tonality. The guitar just under her inflections snakes around in warm whiffs of heat-hazy blues. What Olle achieves here through her showcase of an old genre (blues) is craft some nuances that suit her fortified takes. She integrates some original touches through feelings & subtleties that work so well as she builds upon her feelings that lead to a raunchy soul-baring vigor. Love it.
The band – Chris Rodriguez (guitar), Mike Kyle (keyboard/organ), Jeff Roach (organ on “One Day”), Mark Hill & Matt Pierson (bass) with horns (Vinnie Ciesielski & Tyler Summers.
There are tunes that reach a more commercial mainstream level, but each is produced & recorded with such expertise that none are sugar-coated (“Something About You”). Olle’s interpretive skills are sharp on each tune which never swim through any basic half-hearted blues endeavors. They’re efforts with skill, evoking a maturity that isn’t always evident in typical simple blues structures. These have some colorful threads on their bones.
Highlighted Songs – “Don’t Let the Devil Ride,” “Edge of Goodbye,” “One Day,” (with its B.B. King type lead guitar), “Nobody’s Fault But Mine,” (excellent) & “Hit or Miss,” (very soulful Mavis Staples-like).
CD cover photo & color portrait by Suzanne Sagmeister. CD @ https://olleeowens.com/